A sophomore track athlete at Philipsburg-Osceola, Hunter’s coaches describe him as fearless.
“I don’t think there’s anything out here on the track that if Hunter decided he wanted to do it, I don’t think there’s anything he could do,” Philipsburg-Osceola track coach Jason McKenzie said.
Powerful praise given what Hunter has lived with his whole life.
“The doctor told me that if I raised him like he had a disability but if I raised him like the other kids, then he would act like a normal kid,” Autumn Connor, Hunter’s mom, said.
At just two months old, doctors declared Hunter to be legally blind.
“Devastating because it’s a baby, and you’re overwhelmed to start with, so you don’t know how you’re going to handle it,” Autumn said.
“With challenges, I kind of just had to learn how to overcome them and at first, yeah I was scared because I didn’t know what people were going to think or how they were going to react,” Hunter said.
So Hunter went all-in and joined the track team his freshman year, and instantly fell in love with the sport.
“He loves what he does and when he puts his heart into it, it’s like his whole heart, not half of it, like Hunter has to go all the way,” Autumn said.
Hunter is able to tell the difference between light and dark, so he runs in lane 1 for all his races but it’s his perseverance that’s captured the hearts of his teammates, including sprinter Nicholas Keith.
“Usually at the 200, I would be nervous because that’s my favorite event and then I would always talk to Hunter before and he would just say, ‘I’m here to have fun.’ And I’m like ok that’s what I’m here for,” Keith said.
But Keith takes it a step further and before each race, he lines up Hunter to make sure he’s in the right spot.
“Everyone else was doing it so I figured he should have the same chance as everyone else,” Keith said.
Hunter admits he doesn’t like the attention running around him, but it doesn’t stop the admiration.
“It’s humbling and it makes me look at myself like what would I quit on? And then watching him, he doesn’t quit on anything,” Keith said.
“People see me as an inspiration because I have overcome so many things but there are people that I see as inspirations because they don’t want to do,” Hunter said.
Now Hunter wants his message to spread. TO SPREAD.
“Just do it, don’t be afraid, don’t care what other people think, just do it. If you love it and want to do it,” Hunter said.
And that’s a message anyone can run with.